6 Steps to Recruit, Train & Retain Volunteers

There are many different tasks and types of workers needed to pull off a successful VBS. There are many ways to recruit volunteers. For maximum effectiveness, using a variety of approaches will be your best bet. After working with thousands of VBS directors and hearing their feedback, here are the 6 steps to successfully leading volunteers.


1) Determine the number of volunteers you need.

Before your start asking. You need to have a goal.


Because as strange as it might seem, too many volunteers can be a problem too.


But you're likely not worried about that if you're reading this article...


The point is, determine roles and responsibilities needed, then go from there. For example:

You're expecting 50 students broken into 5 teams or crews. Each team needs a lead.


Plus a lead for each station. Snacks. Games. Crafts.


Now depending on if you are doing a rotation style (most common) VBS, you'll need someone at a station at all times.


2) Identify Volunteers & Their Passion

No great goal was reached alone. There are always teams of people leading.


Although you are the VBS Director, you need a "core" team of leaders to cover the main areas of your VBS. Typically, these areas include Music, Crafts, Snacks, Rec, etc.


As much as you can, ask people who love to do specific areas of need or have a gifting in that area. If Ms. Harrington loves baking and food, ask her to lead the Snack station!


3) Ask, Ask, Ask

People do not have the chance to say yes if you never ask. (I'm paraphrasing Wayne Gretzky's famous quote "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take")

But it's true! Listen...people are gonna say no, or say they'll "pray about it" and never get back to you (don't worry that's just "no" in Christian). But the others are going to jump at the thought of you asking.


People in your church are looking for a place to make an impact. Even more , they are looking for a place of ownership.


4) Create ownership

There's no greater recruiter than ownership.


When volunteers have an area of known impact and responsibility, they just do better.


Creating ownership is more work on the front end, but really pays off on the back end. In other words, spend time creating the role with the person and let them speak into what will make an impact.


Then occasionally meet with them to check in.


5) Provide Training and Resources

Once you get your starter kit, you'll have all of the essential materials to empowering your team.


This would be a good time to have meal together and plan your VBS!


But curriculum is not the backbone of your VBS. Your vision as the VBS Director (with the Children's Pastor) will


6) Support, Nurture and Thank your Volunteers

Check in with your volunteers.


Once you empower them to fulfill their role, don't just see them in 3 months once your VBS starts. Have a once a month dinner/training with your team or grab coffee with one station leader once a week.


Ask them what they need in order to do their job well.


Make sure to appreciate your volunteers along the way...not just at the end.


Reminding them that they are doing a great job will encourage and inspire in the midst of late nights or long planning sessions.


Here are some fun gift/appreciation ideas too!